[Underneath article was written before the start of the Volta a Catalunya and has not been updated]
Adam Yates is one of those riders who often lose time in races against the clock. Just like Richard Carapaz. Yates won the Volta a Catalunya before, while Carapaz finished in second last year. The other two big names on the entry list, Roglic and Evenepoel, did hardly race in Catalonia before. The World Champion never, the Olympic ITT Champion only once – in 2016, his first year as a pro. As they are both expectional time trialists it will be interesting to see how they fare in a race with no time trial.
The battle for the overall triumph on the Volta a Catalunya is expected to come down to the stages 2, 3 and 5, while the hilly criterium race on the last day of action is always compelling, but seldom leads to significant changes on GC.
Stage 2 is likely to open up the first time gaps among GC riders. It’s a mountain station in ski resort Vallter 2000, where Yates emerged victorious on the last two occasions – in 2019 and 2021. The climb to the line is 11 kilometres and the average gradient sits at 7.6%.
While the run-up to the Vallter 2000 climb is not very remarkable, the 3rd stage serves a more compelling first part. The elevation gain during the day sums up to almost 4,000 metres. Yet, the La Molina finish climb is relatively easy – 12.1 kilometres long and averaging 4.3%. Not an ascent for pure mountain goats, but if the form is not good enough, you suffer.
Mountain goats will have it their way in the fifth day of action. Again, the run-up is not very remarkable, but this time the climb to the line is. Mont Caro is a mythical peak within the Lo Port natural reserve. As far as cycling goes, the ascent comes with brutal credentials – 8.4 kilometres at 9%.
The most recent winners of the Volta a Catalunya are Sergio Higuita (2022), Adam Yates (2021) and Miguel Ángel López (2019). The succeeded he now retired trio Alejandro Valverde (2018, 2017, 2009), Nairo Quintana (2016), and Richie Porte (2015).
Favourites 2023 Volta a Catalunya
***** Primoz Roglic, Remco Evenepoel, Adam Yates
**** João Almeida, Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa
*** Gino Mäder, Romain Bardet, Egan Bernal, Giulio Ciccone
** Geraint Thomas, Jai Hindley, Ben O’Connor, Rigoberto Uran
* Esteban Chaves, Jack Haig, Michael Woods, Juan Pedro López